BetLion takes sports betting brand into Kenya

BetLion has followed up its successful launch in Uganda by taking its jackpot-focused sports betting product into the neighbouring market of Kenya.

The operator, whose customers in Uganda can land the ‘Cranes Jackpot’ of UGX 150,000,000 (£30,000) from a stake of just UGX 3,000 (60p), is ready to offer a midweek and weekend jackpot in Kenya.

The vast majority of the BetLion Kenya operational team are Kenyan nationals working out of the firm’s new headquarters, including Spencer Okach, Managing Director for Kenya.

Peter Stagles, Group Operations Director at BetLion, said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of BetLion in Kenya. It has long been on our radar as a territory that offers great potential.

“There is a betting maturity and understanding here as well as a huge opportunity, particularly through increased smart phone penetration. It’s a great time for us to enter the market with a polished, easy to use product, combined with a tremendous localised knowledge and a sound business strategy.

“This expansion is a sign of our intent and ambition. Buoyed by our initial success and learnings in Uganda, we have plans to launch in a number of new territories in the first half of 2019.”

Having embraced the challenging tax conditions in Uganda, BetLion will take on a similarly penal situation in Kenya, but one that was significantly improved by the recent reduction of betting operators’ tax from 35% of gross gambling revenues (GGR) to 15%.

However, over and above this betting tax Kenyan firms pay a corporation tax of 30% and dedicate 25% of their sales to social causes like sports sponsorship as a legal requirement, while this year’s Finance Bill did restore a 20% tax on bettors’ winnings.

“The tax situation is a challenge,” admitted Stagles. “If we saw UK and European type single, high-turnover business, then it would be even more difficult. It will be overcome through initiatives that encourage multiple business such as our ‘Second Chance’ and multiple-based loyalty offering.

“Large pre-match football multiples are commonplace among our Ugandan players and we see a synergy in Kenya too. These type of bets with customers winning much bigger amounts but with less volume negates some of the challenges of the stake aspect of withholding tax.”

In a LinkedIn post confirming the launch in Kenya, the firm’s CEO Oliver Bates teased bringing the BetLion brand into a third African country in January 2019.

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